This post was written by Margaret Ojeniyi and edited by Lani Sodunke.
We all often feel the urge to eat more food from time to time. However, regularly overeating without control may result from binge eating disorder.
Binge eating is a psychological condition that leads to consuming a large amount of food within a short time, even when you are not hungry. Any individual suffering from binge eating usually finds it difficult to control the type or amount of food they consume.
People with this order are known to feel a sense of release during a binge, and then they begin to self-loath, shame, and regret afterward. Binge eating most times leads to weight gain and obesity. This usually increases compulsive eating because the more you feel repulsive about your appearance, the more you eat food as a coping mechanism.
Binge eating is related to bulimia. However, unlike bulimia, there is no self-induced purging, vomiting, or fasting to compensate for the binges. Although you might feel powerless about your eating disorder, there are ways you can learn to overcome binge eating episodes and develop the right relationship with food to gain control over your health.
How to know you Have a binge eating disorder
Some people do not realize they are binge eating until they get diagnosed by a healthcare professional. The following are the warning signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder:
- Eating large amount when not hungry
- Eating rapidly
- Hiding food to eat alone or secretly
- Rushing food when you are alone but eating normally around people
- Having a relieved feeling while eating
- Feeling depressed or self-disgust after binge eating.
What causes binge eating disorder?
Though the leading causes of binge eating disorders have not been found, the following are contributing factors that increase the risk of having the disorder.
- Psychological factors like emotional trauma: Traumatic events like abuse, bullying, accident, death, or separation from a loved one can increase the risk.
- Biological/genetic factor: Binge eating disorder is common among women than men, and this is due to some biological factors. Also, family health history can contribute to the disorder. If any of your family members have a history of eating disorders, you could too.
- Other psychological conditions: Most people with binge eating disorder have shown signs of at least one other psychological disorder like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, low self-esteem, anxiety, or phobias.
Tips to overcome binge eating
- Don’t skip food: Skipping food especially breakfast can result in binge eating later. Stick to your mealtimes religiously and never have a reason to starve yourself.
- Avoid restricting diet: Overly restricting diets with intense guidelines would do you no good. It is better to make healthy changes than to adopt extreme diets. You can include unprocessed whole food like fruits, vegetables, and grains in your diet. Thus, stay away from diet plans that promise quick weight loss.
- Drink enough water: Studies have shown that taking enough water can help decrease hunger and calories intake. Thus, drinking water is an effective way to curb overeating.
- Include fiber in your diet: Fibers can be found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, they help keep you full.
- Manage stress and rest
- Exercise: Healthy physical activities help improve mood and reduce stress. Thus, exercise can help with emotional eating.
- Get enough sleep: When you get enough sleep, your body also gains enough energy to be active for the day. Depriving yourself of sleep can trigger food cravings, especially sweet food.
- Identify and address triggers.
- Be conscious: Always pay attention to how you feel. Being mindful improves self-awareness.
- Avoid temptation
- Have a meal plan
- Eat enough protein: Include at least one good source of protein like meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, or legumes in your meals and whenever you feel hungry to keep cravings away.
- Talk to someone: As much as the above tips can help, the most effective tip is to seek help. Talk to a professional, they can choose the best form of therapy to help you overcome your binge eating disorder.
How to get diagnosed for binge eating disorder
To diagnose binge eating disorder, a psychological evaluation and discussion of your eating habits would be carried out. Other tests would also be run to determine other health risks like high blood pressure, diabetes, and sleep-related disorders. The tests are:
- Blood and urine tests
- Physical examination
- Sleep disorder consultation
Treatments for binge eating disorder
It can be in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which helps to cope better with issues that can trigger binge-eating episodes. Interpersonal psychotherapy focuses on how you relate with others, and dialectical behaviour therapy help with behavioural skills tolerate stress and regulate your emotions.
The following drugs can be recommended by your healthcare provider
- Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate is also called Vyvanse. It’s a drug for attention deficit.
- Topiramate (Topmax): This is an anticonvulsant. It is usually used to control seizures and to reduce binge eating disorders.
- Antidepressants: Antidepressants have been found to affect certain brain chemicals associated with mood. Thus it’s used to reduce binge eating.
Note that the medications are known to have side effects, so it is advisable to use them under the guidance of your healthcare provider.
3. Behavioural weight-loss programs
Most people with binge eating disorder find it difficult to lose weight and this is where behavioural weight loss program comes in. They are usually done under medical supervision to ensure nutritional requirements are met.
Having a binge eating disorder can be frustrating, especially when it is difficult to help yourself. If you or anyone you know has this disorder, find a support group to help with encouragement and coping advice. Also, ensure you get the approval of your medical care provider before trying out a new treatment.